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Hawks stun Mankato at state tourney

The Hastings Hawks did it again.

After shocking local fans and beating Dundas to qualify for the state tournament, Hastings faced the state's No. 1 team and reigning state champion, the Mankato Twins.

Mankato entered the game with a 22-2 record. Hastings entered with a 22-17 record.

But none of that mattered.

Hastings won, 7-3, to advance to the quarterfinals of the state amateur baseball tournament in Gaylord.

"Mankato was the favorite to win the state championship going into that game," Hastings player/manager Adam Barta said. "Our guys knew that. We walked into the game with the same type of attitude we took into playing Dundas. We were the only 22 guys who believed we could beat that team. We were the big-time underdogs in that game."

The game didn't exactly start well for the Hawks. Mankato scored twice in the bottom of the first off Barta, the Hawks' ace.

"After they scored their two runs in the first, we could have easily laid down and said, 'OK, this is the way everybody expected it to go. We'll lay down and take our beating.'" Barta said. "We didn't do that. We came to play, and it looked like they didn't."

Mankato committed four errors that led to two unearned runs. Hastings, meanwhile, was perfect in the field.

The scoring

Mankato scored first, putting two runs up on the board in the first inning.

Hastings countered with a run in the third inning. Jordy Horsch singled and later scored on a single by Andy Salmela.

In the fourth, the Hawks tied the game. David Vogelgesang walked and advanced on a single by Jared Powell. Derrick Pfeffer reached on an error to load the bases. Vogelgesang then scored on an error by the Mankato left fielder.

In the fifth, Sam Ryan walked to lead off the inning. Salmela then hit a home run over the left-center field fence to give the Hawks a 4-2 lead.

In the sixth, Mankato put together a threat. Barta walked in a run with the bases loaded, but struck out a Mankato batter to end the threat.

Hastings took a 4-3 lead into the seventh inning, hoping to add an insurance run or two. Turns out, they were able to add three.

Ryan walked, Steve Loos singled and Pat Kelly knocked in Ryan.

Powell walked and then Pfeffer knocked in two with a double.

In the bottom of the seventh, Mankato went down one-two-three.

What's next?

Hastings will play Prior Lake at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Gaylord.

The Hawks are one of four Classic Cannon Valley League teams still alive in the state tournament, and all four will play Saturday in Gaylord.

Hampton plays at 11 a.m., Cannon Falls plays at 1:30 p.m., Miesville plays at 5 p.m. and Hastings at 7:30 p.m.

Prior Lake advanced in the tournament by beating Plato, 7-1. They are led by pitcher Chris Swiatkiewicz, who struck out 15 Plato batters in the win.

Barta and Swiatkiewicz played against each other in college. Swiatkiewicz went on to play in the New York Yankees organization.

Should the Hawks win, they'll play at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

If they lose, they'll play at 5 p.m. Sunday.

The Hawks will face either Sauk Rapids or Elko in Sunday's game.